This is a classic submarine movie. A very specific genre, which also happens to be my grandfather’s favorite. I cannot WAIT for this film to be available on Netflix so I can send it to him! If only there had been even more underwater shenanigans and videos of little toy boats moving in bathtubs, and slightly less patriotic stupidity.
You know how we never see the faces of the stormtroopers in Star Wars and it’s a super obvious way of making us not care when they die but at the same time it’s fine because this is a fable and a fairy tale and a kids’ movie, so the bad guys should just be faceless nameless “bad guys”? Yeah, there is something similar here with the Pakistanis, making them just ridiculously eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. Only, these are/were actual people! Not just cloned brainwashed masked people from a fairy tale, but real people who existed in the past and who are similar to people who exist in the present. So, I have a bit of a hard time with just how incredibly bad they were made to be, for no reason beyond their nationality. That’s my biggest issue with the film. Oh, and also, how everyone who assumes their complete evilness and untrustworthiness is proved right.
But there is a bunch of other stuff that works really well for me. The performances, for one thing. Kay Kay Menon was as delightful and entertaining as always. I couldn’t recognize his face with the beard and turban and all, but I suddenly recognized him about 15 minutes into the movie when he did a classic Kay Kay Menon random hand movement. Atul Kulkarni was also interesting. I don’t know why he doesn’t work more, I always enjoy seeing him onscreen.
(Still his greatest performance in my book)
Rana Daggubatti has been getting various accolades, and he got the primary place on the poster, and I really could not see why for about the first 2/3rds of the film. He was fine, certainly the most traditionally attractive of the characters, but kind of a by the numbers character and performance that was more about re-acting than acting. And then suddenly in the last 40 minutes or so it all clicks into place. I was watching it and I caught myself thinking “well, it’s not like he’s acting here, he really is a kind of young and uncertain newbie”. And then I remembered, no, wait! He is a DECADE into his career! The last movie I saw with him, he was playing a middle-aged man! Being able to so completely inhabit a young man trying to live up to unexpected responsibility, to the point that I completely forgot he wasn’t doing that in real life, that is impressive!
Oh, and Taapsee Pannu is also there. Kind of an obvious tacked on character so we have someone female. Difficult to accomplish on a submarine. Doesn’t have much to do in the end. But okay for what she is.
The real star, though, is the submarine. The film takes its time getting us familiar with the space while other boring stuff is happening, so by the time we get to all those moments of diving and surfacing and rotating and torpedoes and all, we feel like we know the place and are used to moving within it. And I can even recognize the outside of it! Speaking of Star Wars again, I am still not quite clear on the difference between the “good guy” fighter ships and the “bad guy” fighter ships. But in this one, they managed to always give me an angle on the ship so I could tell which was the “good” one and which was the “bad” one.
So, yeah, if you feel like watching a bunch of Grandpa approved undersea maneuvers, with some pretty jingoistic nationalism, and really great performances, this is the film for you!